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Ninety Years of Grace: Mother of the Bride


As we mark the 90th anniversary of Grace Kelly’s birth this month, Royal Central looks back on several aspects of her life.

As Princess Grace died on 14 September 1982, she witnessed only one of her children’s weddings when her eldest daughter, Princess Caroline married Philippe Junot on 28 June 1978. Philippe Junot was a Parisian banker, and he was 17 years older than Princess Caroline, who was 21 at the time.

The lavish wedding ceremony was held outdoors on the Princely Palace’s grounds. It was attended by family and friends as well as Hollywood celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, and Ava Gardner. It was said at the time that her parents disapproved of the union. Princess Caroline and Philippe Junot divorced two years later on 9 October 1980.

In 1981, Prince Rainier said: “Should I have put my foot down? The blessing is that when she could stand it no longer she came straight back to her family, straight back to us. She felt she was safe, that she had a refuge and we gave her support and so she got out of a situation which could not have gotten better, only worse.”

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In a book published for Prince Albert’s birthday last year, Princess Caroline admitted that the children were not close to their parents during their childhood: “When we were little, we were probably closer to our nanny than to our parents. For my brother and I, Maureen was a key figure in our life.” But according to James Spada, author of Grace Kelly: The Secret Lives of a Princess, Princess Grace once said: “I’m afraid I’m very severe at times. Outsiders might think I’m too hard on the children. But I give them just as much love as I do discipline, and it seems to work out very well.”

Princess Grace seemed to have a very hard time adjusting to royal life especially when in 1962, she wanted to act in Hitchcock’s new movie but the Monégasque people were so against it that she had to pull out of the project. There were a lot of rumours about the state of Grace and Rainier’s marriage as well since Grace had been spending more time in Paris with her daughters following Princess Caroline’s divorce in 1981. She once told Donald Spoto, author of High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly: “The idea of my life as a fairy tale is itself a fairy tale.”

Many accounts show that she was struggling with the expectations and restrictions of royal life, especially as she was so scrutinised. In 2014, Prince Albert said to People: “Coming to live here and having to behave in a certain way must have been hard for her at first, but I never heard her complain.”

The Princely Family have always protected and defended Grace’s legacy – they publicly disassociated themselves from the 2014 biopic made about her – and many authors and journalists publicly stated that it was hard to get any information from people who knew her and worked with her. It seems clear that Grace was conflicted about royal life and would have had concerns about her children growing under the scrutiny of the world.